Last year I lived in a student house. Sometime around the start of summer when days were warm and windows were open all day, we started hearing lots of meowing. Now when I say lots, I mean lots. And loud. Our bedroom (boyfriend and I) was the attic room which had a kind of tilting attic window overlooking the back garden. One warm bright summers day I happened to look out the window (something I adored doing in that room as the window was just the right height to lean on and look out getting some fresh air) I noticed some little fluff balls running around our back garden. I’ve never had a pet cat or dog so got really excited at the fact they were in our garden.
They were the most adorable little things just play fighting and running around jumping over one another, while a larger, most likely the mother, cat sat in the sun watching over them. My obsession with looking out the window grew dramatically. Everyday I’d look out making sure to let my boyfriend know whether the kittens were out playing or not.
Now these cats and kittens had been living and had been born in the shed at the end of our garden. They weren’t pets and were terrified of us at first. The first time we even stepped outside they scarpered back into the shed, despite the garden being very long, maybe 20 metres. We started putting a bowl of water and small amounts of cat food out for them. I felt bad every time it rained as the shed had a fallen roof and seemed like a horrible place.
We started taking food out for them while they were out playing, managing to get closer and closer each few days. We then noticed the other 2 students in the house had also discovered and began feeding them. They were being spoilt!
There were three kittens, a scruffy, skinny mother and another larger black cat. The mother would always watch over the kittens and the other cat would always be a second pair of eyes. There were also about three other larger cats which seemed to come and go.
Because they were essentially feral cats, and we were only students, we rang Cat Protection. I know this was the right thing to do but I sometimes regretted it. The first time the lady came they were playing in the garden as usual. As soon as she got close they all ran inside the shed. She then proceeded to storm in on them. Bursting into this shed that had not been entered for months, causing all sorts to fall down, as boyfriend and I stood outside listening to the crashes and desperate meows. She made such a racket. She caught the little black kitten and also found another kitten who had been born much more recently as it wasn’t even walking yet. She also caught the mother who was spayed and returned the next day.
After that tiny kitten was taken the meowing became louder. I felt so guilty. It’s our understanding that the other larger black cat was the mother and was now completely distraught. A few days later she came back and caught another of the kittens as well as a larger cat. The larger cat turned out to have cat aids and had to be put down, but all kittens were healthy and getting ready to go to a new home. Part of me felt awful for breaking up their little family and taking them away from this obviously loving and caring mother. But the other part of me knew their lives would be better in loving adoptive homes. I couldn’t help but still feel a little guilty for all the disruption we caused them though.
At this point being students our contracts were coming to an end and we had to move out. The few days before we left the remaining kitten, mother and black cat seemed to trust us and would come right up to us to eat their food. We could even stroke them gently by the end. It felt like they were ours and I actually became quite attached to the three of them.
Unfortunately we had to leave them behind but I really hope the final kitten is either doing well or has been captured and given to a loving home. Those kittens living in the garden shed really made the start of my summer a lot more interesting and adorable. They also made a terrible uni house that tiny bit more bearable.